Natural remedies for better sleep and more vivid dreams

In order to have dreams we first need to sleep. There are millions of reasons why we sometimes find it hard to fall asleep. Over the years I’ve learned of a few natural remedies that might help. But before I get to my favourites please note that we are all different: different plants can affect us in very different ways. The natural remedies discussed in this article are all quite powerful  which means that they may be very effective in treating sleep problems for some people but can also have powerful negative effects for others. If you have any other health issues please do some more research before trying them.

PLANTS

1. Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) has been used as a medicinal herb for a very long time. There are records showing that Galenus, a Greek physician in the Roman empire, prescribed it as a remedy for insomnia in the second century A.D. Today it is widely available over the counter as an effective natural way to relax and fall asleep.

I usually take a tablet  (2000mg) when I realise that my mind is overactive and that I am unable to fall asleep. It usually takes effect within half an hour. One tablet gives me a really good and restful sleep but I am mostly unable to remember my dreams in the morning.

A better and perhaps less powerful option is valerian dry root tea. A cup of tea before bedtime gives me a good night sleep rich with dreams.  While I take a tablet only when I already see that I am unable to sleep, I have a cup of tea for a few weeks at a time and then take a break.  

(For information  on whether it is safe and how much to take please see http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-870-valerian.aspx?activeingredientid=870)

2. Valerian is sometimes mixed with hops (Humulus lupulus) to make a liquid extract. Clinical trials (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16335333) show that the combination can be used to treat mild insomnia.

For me personally the combination didn’t do anything different than valerian alone.

3. Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) is a plant used traditionally in Ayurvedic medicine. Like valerian it is available in many different forms – as a tablet, powder or tea, to name just a few. My personal preference is for organic tea but, like valerian, it has a very specific taste which may not be to everyone’s liking. Brahmi tea tends to become very bitter after three minutes but if I leave it to stand for two minutes the result is just right: the tea is strong enough and the bitter taste is not overwhelming.
For me brahmi is a very powerful plant. I am not a frequent lucid dreamer yet I had two lucid dreams in one month when I kept drinking it regularly. For the whole period of two months while I was having a cup every night I had very vivid dreams that I found easy to remember.

As a powerful plant it affects me in many different ways. I don’t think it helps me fall asleep and actually my feeling is that it sometimes awakes me rather than helps me fall asleep. I wouldn’t take it for insomnia. However, I am certain that it relaxes me overall and makes me less anxious before stressful events. Additionally, my feeling is that it makes me more lucid also in my waking state.

I usually take it for up to two months at a time and then take a prolonged break.



4. Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is another powerful Ayurvedic plant. It comes in tablets, powder, liquid extract or tea. Having tried the powder which I couldn’t swallow for its off-putting taste and smell I decided to stick to organic tea. As a tea the taste and smell are more acceptable.

With ashwagandha I have less experience than with brahmi, however, my feeling is that it is working in a different way. It gives me a good night sleep and it is relaxing in a similar way as valerian. My dreams are not as vivid as when I take brahmi, nevertheless, they feel very responsive to any incubation questions and tend to be soothing.  


TWO OTHER USEFUL TIPS AND TRICKS FOR EASIER FALLING ASLEEP

For me the following two work best:

1. Counting down from 100 to 0. If I am not too alert  it works beautifully. But if my mind is in a an overstimulated state I just keep losing count all the time. Getting back to it feels hard and whenever I do I become even more alert.


2. The second method is more effective and works on the basis of communication between my conscious and unconscious mind. I keep saying to myself soothingly: I am very sleepy. I am very drowsy. I am about to fall asleep. And I do. It really works! 

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